Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teeth whitening do you offer?
At what age should I bring my child to the dentist?
Do you take my insurance?
Oral Health - Disorders and Treatments
What is plaque?
What is a cavity?
What is Gingivitis?
What are sensitive teeth?
What is a Wisdom tooth?
What is a dental abscess?
What is a jaw disorder (TMD)?
What is Bruxism (grinding)?
What is Halitosis?
What is Dry Mouth?
Do you take my insurance?
We are happy to setup and file claims with your dental insurance company, as well as process payments received toward your account with us. We, however, are not a participating provider with any insurance company. This means, we do not have a contractual agreement to write-off differences between the "allowable" charges established by your particular plan and our charges.
Please remember, the dental insurance policy is a contract between you, (your employer, if it is a group plan) and your insurance company. We are not a party to that contract. If you have questions about coverage of a particular procedure and/or the amount covered by your insurance plan, you should refer to your insurance contract's explanation of benefits and exclusions or contact the insurance carrier directly. The contact information is generally on the back of your card.
For procedures that allow advance planning on your part, we suggest and are happy to request a pre-treatment estimate from your insurance company so you will know more specifically what your insurance plan will cover. Depending on the insurance company this process usually takes 2-6 weeks.
At what age should I bring my child to the dentist?
We recommend you bring your child for a check up at age 3. However, temperaments vary; and ultimately you should decide if your child is ready. It is a good idea to bring young children along with older siblings or parents to their cleanings so that the child can become familiar with our office. We have a real treasure box full of goodies and cool toothbrushes that help make the visits fun and exciting.
What kind of teeth whitening do you offer?
We have several different types of whitening available. The best is a set of custom trays. We will take impressions of your mouth and make the trays for you. The bleaching agent we like is Venus. It comes in syringes; and the number of applications will vary. You load your trays with the Bravo and wear your trays for 45 minutes once day until you achieve the results that you want. We are currently offering custom trays with three syringes of bleach for $199. You may purchase additional syringes for $10 per syringe.
We discourage in-office bleaching systems for several reasons. It is essentially the same procedure as if you took home the custom bleaching and applied it several times in row. But, instead of being at home you have to sit in the dentist's office. It is also very expensive, ranging between $400-$900. The light and laser systems used by some offices have been proven to have absolutely no effect whatsoever. It is simply for show. Finally, in office bleaching systems cause extreme post-operative sensitivity because of the frequency of the application.
The best and most long lasting results come from the custom tray system. Bleaching your teeth can be compared to the race between the tortoise and the hare. Steady application over a number of weeks will achieve the best results.
One caveat however, when you have achieved the results you are looking for it is only necessary to do a touch up application every three to six months. Over-bleaching will remove all of the color from your teeth. They turn a dull, ugly gray and become very translucent. The natural tooth color can never be restored.
Oral Health - Disorders and Treatments
What are Sensitive Teeth?
Sensitive teeth are teeth that become painful when introduced to certain conditions like; hot and cold substances, biting pressure, or tooth brushing. There may be a number of factors involved including; a cracked tooth, tooth decay, an exposed root or filling, worn tooth enamel, gum recession, or periodontal disease.
How do I Know if I Have Sensitive Teeth?
The onset of sensitive teeth is first noticed when you are drinking or eating something that is either hot or cold or when you are brushing and flossing your teeth. If any of these things consistently cause pain or sensitivity you may have sensitive teeth.
How are Sensitive Teeth Treated?
The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Depending on the cause, your hygienist or Dr. Londrey may suggest that you try desensitizing toothpaste, which contains compounds that help block sensation traveling from the tooth surface to the nerve. Desensitizing toothpaste usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced. When choosing toothpaste or any other dental care products, look for those that display the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance or, if the sensitivity is isolated to one or two teeth, Dr. Londrey may suggest coating the sensitive area with a bonding agent to block the elements that cause the sensitivity.
If the desensitizing toothpaste does not ease your discomfort, there are several in-office treatments. A fluoride gel may be applied to the sensitive areas of the affected teeth. Other options, depending on the problem, may include a filling, a crown, an inlay or bonding to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
If gum tissue has been lost from the root (gum recession), a surgical gum graft to cover the root, protect the tooth and reduce the sensitivity may be recommended. In cases in which hypersensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, Dr. Londrey may recommend endodontic (root canal) treatment to eliminate the problem.
What is Plaque?
Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth.
How do I Know if I Have Plaque?
Plaque makes teeth "feel fuzzy" to the tongue and is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed. It is most commonly felt built up between teeth and along the gum line.
How is Plaque Treated?
When brushing and flossing are regular parts of your oral health routine, most plaque build-up can be prevented. At home, brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day is critical for keeping plaque from building up. Also, when you have been snacking on sugar rich foods and beverages, remember to brush as soon as you are finished or if you do not have access to a toothbrush and toothpaste, swish your mouth with water to prevent the raising acid level in your mouth which provides a perfect environment for bacterial growth.
For professional prevention, make sure to visit our office once every 6 months for a check-up and teeth cleaning, or more often if recommended by Dr. Londrey. Also, sealants may be suggested to prevent chewing surfaces of your teeth from cavities and decay.
What is a Cavity?
Cavities occur as a result of tooth decay. Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth structure. Tooth decay can affect both the enamel (the outer coating of the tooth) and the dentin layer of the tooth. Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or caries.
How do I know if I have a Cavity?
At our office, we can discover cavities during your regular dental check-up. The tooth surface feels soft when probed by your hygienist or Dr. Londrey with a dental instrument. X-rays can also show cavities before they become visible to the eye, which is why it is important to keep current records of your x-rays with annual updates.
In advanced stages of tooth decay, you might experience a toothache, especially after consuming sweet, hot, or cold foods or drinks. Other signs of tooth decay are visible pits or holes in the teeth.
How are Cavities Treated?
Cavities are treated with fillings or, in cases of extreme decay; a root canal, extraction or crown may be necessary.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis—an inflammation of the gums—is the initial stage of gum disease and the easiest to treat. The direct cause of gingivitis is plaque—the soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms constantly on the teeth and gums. If the plaque is not removed by daily brushing and flossing, it produces toxins (poisons) that can irritate the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected. Left untreated, however, gingivitis can become periodontitis and cause permanent damage to your teeth and jaw.
How do I know if I Have Gingivitis?
Classic signs and symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender gums that may bleed when you brush. Another sign of gum disease is gums that have receded or pulled away from your teeth, giving your teeth an elongated appearance. Gum disease can cause pockets to form between the teeth and gums, where plaque and food debris collect. Some people may experience recurring bad breath or a bad taste in their mouth, even if the disease is not advanced.
How is Gingivitis Treated?
Early treatment of gum disease is very important. The goals of treatment are to prevent gum disease from permanently damaging tissues, control infection, and prevent tooth loss.
For treatment to be effective, you will need to:
Treatment for early-stage gum disease:
- Keep your teeth clean by brushing two times a day and flossing one time a day.
- See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
- Avoid all tobacco use. Tobacco decreases your ability to fight infection, interferes with healing, and makes you more likely to have serious gum disease that results in tooth loss.
If the problem progresses past the early stage, Dr. Londrey will review your best options for arresting the spread of periodontal disease. Which may include; scaling and root planing with the hygienist, Arestin treatments, or other measures depending on the severity of the spread of the disease.
- Brush your teeth two times a day, in the morning and before bedtime.
- Floss your teeth one time a day.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash, such as Listerine, or an anti-plaque mouthwash.
What is a Wisdom Tooth?
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Sometimes these teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, but more often, they are misaligned and require removal.
How do I know if My Wisdom Tooth is Misaligned?
Wisdom teeth present potential problems when they are misaligned – they can position themselves horizontally, be angled toward or away from the second molars or be angled inward or outward. The best way to tell the alignment of a wisdom tooth is with an x-ray. This is why it is important to take an X-ray periodically to evaluate for the presence and alignment of your wisdom teeth.
How Is a Misaligned Wisdom Tooth Treated?
The route that may be recommended is that your wisdom teeth be extracted even before problems develop. This is done to avoid a more painful or more complicated extraction that might have to be done a few years later and can be treated in our office or with a recommended oral surgeon. Removal is easier in young people, when the wisdom teeth roots are not yet fully developed and the bone is less dense. In older people, recovery and healing time tend to be longer. Wisdom teeth can be entrapped completely within the soft tissue and/or the jawbone or only partially break through or erupt through the gum. The relative ease at which Dr. Londrey or an oral surgeon can extract your wisdom teeth depends on the position of the impacted teeth. A wisdom tooth that is fully erupted through the gum can be extracted as easily as any other tooth. However, a wisdom tooth that is underneath the gums and embedded in the jawbone will require an incision into the gums and then removal of the portion of bone that lies over the tooth.
What is a Dental Abscess?
A dental abscess is an infection of the mouth, face, jaw, or throat that begins as a tooth infection or cavity. These infections are common in people with poor dental health and result from lack of proper and timely dental care. In the case of a dental abscess, bacteria from a cavity can extend into the gums, the cheek, the throat, beneath the tongue, or even into the jaw or facial bones. A dental abscess can become very painful when tissues become inflamed. Pus collects at the site of the infection and will become progressively more painful until it either ruptures and drains on its own or is drained surgically. Sometimes the infection can progress to the point where swelling threatens to block the airway, causing difficulty breathing. Dental abscesses can also make you generally ill, with nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills, and sweats and have been known, in extreme cases, to cause death when left untreated.
How do I know if I have a Dental Abscess?
Symptoms of a dental abscess typically include pain, swelling, and redness of the mouth and face. With an advanced infection, you can suffer nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and diarrhea.
The signs of dental abscess typically include, but are not limited to, cavities, gum inflammation, oral swelling, tenderness with touch, pus drainage, and sometimes difficulty fully opening your mouth or swallowing.
How are Dental Abscesses Treated?
Dr. Londrey may decide to cut open the abscess and allow the pus to drain. Unless the abscess ruptures on its own, this is the only way that the infection can be cured. People with dental abscesses are typically prescribed pain relievers and, at the discretion of the doctor, antibiotics to fight the infection.
An abscess that has extended to the floor of the mouth or to the neck may need to be drained in the operating room under anesthesia.
To prevent the occurrence of an abscess, remember to brush and floss after every meal and at bedtime. If tooth decay is discovered early and treated promptly, cavities that could develop into abscesses can usually be corrected. Avoidance of cigarette smoking and excess alcohol consumption can help too.
What is a Jaw Disorder (TMD)?
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) stem from the temporomandibular joint which is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. They can stem from a wide variety of issues such as but not limited to; grinding (bruxism), clenching, and poor posture.
How do I know if I have a Jaw Disorder?
People with TMD can experience severe pain and discomfort that can be temporary or last for many years. More women than men experience TMD and TMD is seen most commonly in people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Common symptoms of TMD include:
+Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak or open your mouth wide.
- Limited ability to open the mouth very wide.
- Jaws that get "stuck" or "lock" in the open- or closed-mouth position.
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth (which may or may not be accompanied by pain).
- A tired feeling in the face.
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite – as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly.
- Swelling on the side of the face.
- Other common symptoms include toothaches, headaches, neckaches, dizziness, and earaches and hearing problems.
How are Jaw Disorders Treated?
Treatments range from simple self-care practices and conservative treatments to injections and surgery. Most experts agree that treatment should begin with conservative, nonsurgical therapies first, with surgery left as the last resort.
Because many other conditions can cause similar symptoms – including a toothache, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease – Dr. Londrey may conduct a careful patient history and clinical examination to determine the cause of your symptoms. He may examine your temporomandibular joints for pain or tenderness; listen for clicking, popping or grating sounds during jaw movement; look for limited motion or locking of the jaw while opening or closing the mouth; and examine bite and facial muscle function. Sometimes panoramic X-rays will be taken. These full face X-rays allow us to view the entire jaws, TMJ, and teeth to make sure other problems aren't causing the symptoms.
If the problem is caused by grinding (bruxism) or clenching, which commonly occurs at night and among women more than men, one treatment is an NTI. An NTIessentially works the same as a night mouth guard but the major difference is that it does not allow the teeth to meet at all, thereby reducing the strain on your jaw by not allowing you to close your teeth completely together.
What is Bruxism (Grinding)?
Bruxism is the medical term for occasional or chronic teeth grinding. It is found in all age-ranges but is more common among women than men.
How Do I know if I Grind or Clench?
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw that may or may not "pop" when it is opened and closed is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Also, when in stressful situations throughout the day, some people will begin clenching their teeth closed or grinding their teeth, if you notice this behavior in yourself, come in to our office to discuss possible preventative measures.
Note: If you have an infant or young child that grinds, that is common and will usually end on its own in adolescence. In infants, bruxism is often a sign of teething and in young children, it can be a result of changes in their home environment, such as a move or a new sibling, or changes among friends and at school. One way to treat this at home is to create a calming bed time routine or to discuss any big changes with your child and create an open environment for them to voice their concerns.
How is Bruxism Treated?
One treatment is an NTI. An NTI essentially works the same as a night mouth guard but the major difference is that it does not allow the teeth to meet at all, thereby reducing the strain on your jaw by not allowing you to close your teeth completely together.
What is Halitosis?
Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, is a chronic syndrome, which can result from poor oral hygiene habits and may be a sign of other health problems. Bad breath can also be made worse by the types of foods you eat and other unhealthy lifestyle habits.
How do I know if I have Halitosis?
If you don't brush and floss your teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, which promotes bacteria growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue. This causes bad breath. In addition, odor-causing bacteria and food particles can cause bad breath if dentures are not properly cleaned.
Smoking or chewing tobacco-based products can also cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods, and irritate gum tissue.
How is Halitosis treated?
You can buy a number of mouthwashes over-the-counter that claim to eliminate bad breath. However, keep in mind that many of these mouthwashes generally provide only a temporary way to mask unpleasant mouth odor. There are, however, several antiseptic mouth-rinse products available that instead of simply masking breath odor kill the germs that cause bad breath. Ask at your next dental appointment about which of the various products is best for you.
Also, bad breath can be reduced or prevented if you:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your teeth after you eat (keep a toothbrush at work or school to brush after lunch). Don't forget to brush your tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. Use floss or an inter-dental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque between your teeth once a day. Dentures should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
- See your dentist regularly – at least twice a year. He will conduct an oral examination and professional teeth cleaning and will be able detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.
- Stop smoking/chewing tobacco-based products. Ask us at your next appointment for tips on kicking the habit.
- Drink lots of water. This will keep your mouth moist. Chewing gum (preferably sugarless) or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria.
- Keep a log of the foods you eat. If you think the foods that you eat may be causing your bad breath, record what you eat so that you can determine which foods may be contributing to the problem. Bring the log to your next dental appointment.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is a condition in which the mouth does not produce enough saliva. Commonly it is a side effect of certain medications including drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies and colds (antihistamines and decongestants), obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma (certain bronchodilators), and Parkinson's disease. Dry mouth is also a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives. Other causes of dry mouth may be; as a side effect of medical conditions, including Sjögren's syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and mumps, nerve damage, dehydration, and lifestyle choices such as smoking and chewing tobacco.
How Do I Know if I Have Dry Mouth?
Common symptoms of dry mouth may include; a sticky, dry feeling in the mouth, frequent thirst, sores in the mouth, corners of the mouth or cracked lips, a dry feeling in the throat, a burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue, a dry, red, raw tongue, problems speaking or difficulty tasting, chewing and swallowing, hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat and bad breath.
How is Dry Mouth Treated?
If you think that the dry mouth you are experiencing may be as a result of medication you are taking, consult with your doctor to see if there may be another option. If not, an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture may be prescribed.
Other steps you can take that may help improve saliva flow include:
- Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum
- Drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist
- Protecting your teeth by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride rinse, and visiting your dentist regularly
- Breathing through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible
- Using a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air
- Using an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.